Friday, August 21, 2009

The World at Our Finger Tips

Truly I believe the internet has been the greatest culture changing development since the printing press. Information, goods, people and causes are all at our disposal within seconds. It is a soapbox before the whole world, a warehouse of every conceivable product, a social connector of peoples and cultures, as well as a sewer of disgusting behaviors.

Its uses are increasing exponentially, and how it affects or dominates our lives is up to us. I now make phones calls using its caption telephone options. I put my calendar on there to remind me of everything from appointments, to birthdays, to watering my plants. I also let it remind or inform my family members of upcoming events. If I want a product I can find it doing a search. If I want some information--same thing. If I need a map all I need is the address and a minute of time. It sends me information about my credit and banking status. It has connected me with people I had lost track of, and acquainted me with others that I didn't know very well. I get the funniest pictures, cartoons, videos and stories sent to me, and I pass some along myself. I have scanned and posted my favorite photos out in cyberspace. Recipes are available by the hundreds for single ingredients, and I am probably underestimating that.

This post could get very long indeed without much trouble or deep thinking on my part as to how the internet is changing the way we live. But part of my point is that much of it is convenient, enriching and delightful. However, there is a downside. Can our world get too bloated to sustain? Can there be an overload of possibilities that keep us from the smaller, delicate, and beautiful things that we now overlook for the big picture? Can we become too burdened by the anvil of knowledge around our necks? We need to proceed carefully to make sure that we are using this as a gift to make us better people. If the effect is otherwise, then it is time to reevaluate.


John Lynch said...

I'm comfortable with the idea that individuals are generally capable or regulating the amount on information he or she wants to consume. If one wants a life free from the conveniences of the Internet, or any subset of them, he or she is free to opt out.

John Lynch said...

Also, in what sense does the Internet prevent me from enjoying the small, beautiful things in life. The Internet is a tool that can be used for almost any purpose. In my opinion, there doesn't exist a greater tool for appreciating the little things than the Internet.

Lisa said...

I think there is an addictive quality to internet use, which does interfere with a free choice to consume or not consume. There is also a disconnect with reality on the internet, since we are not directly confronting the people we are contacting. The distance creates artificial ways of behaving. Furthermore, the more time we are on the internet, the less time we have for the delicate and beautiful things, like looking at real flowers, animals, sunsets, and art.

John Lynch said...

Two thoughts:

1. I think there's a very fine line between addiction and uncommon personal preference.

2. The abstracting of personal features in communication on the Internet is certainly an element at play here. Sometimes this element is good. It can allow one to more directly address the content of the discussion. Some of the more though provoking discussions I've had have been on the Internet, because it allows the participants to speak frankly without giving undue importance to considerations that are not germane to the discussion. Naturally, it can also be bad, since people don't feel the need to be civil when they feel safely anonymous.